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Bangladesh Navy Commissions it´s first submarines

On 12 March the Bangladesh Navy officially commissioned it´s first two submarines with a ceremony. Equipped with a submarine force the Bangladesh Navy wants to grow into a “three-dimensional force” capable of defending the national waters in the Gulf of Bengal. The submarines` procurement was made within the framework of the national program “Forces Goal 2030” which aims at enlarging and modernizing the Bangladesh military. This program was started in 2009. After resolving border disputes with India and a new maritime border demarcation sea areas suspected to have oil and gas resources fell to Bangladesh. With that the Bangladesh Navy, which previously was limited to mere coastal defence gained great significance within the program “Forces Goal 2030”. Older ships were decommissioned and replaced by newer ones. There were also additional procurements. In 2011 the Bangladesh Navy opened it´s aviation wing, since 2013 German-made Dornier 228 NG maritime surveillance aircraft are in service there.

Both submarines were built for the Chinese Navy in 1990 and were modernized at the costs of 203 million $ at the Chinese port Dalian, where they were handed over ceremonially to the Bangladesh Navy on 14 November 2016. On 22 December the submarines were delivered to Bangladesh´s biggest port Chittagong by the Chinese heavy lift vessel MV Kang Sheng Kou and were commissioned there into the Bangladesh Navy as BNS Nabajatra and BNS Joyatra. The submarines are of the improved Chinese Ming-Class (type 035G). They are 76 m (249 ft) long, have a beam of 7.6 m (25 ft) giving them a displacement of 2110 t (submerged). They have a diesel-electric propulsion system with a top speed of 18 kn (submerged). The Chinese Ming Class (Type 035G) was developed on basis of the Soviet Romeo Class (project 633) towards the end of the 1960s. The first two units of this class were commissioned into the Chinese Navy in 1974. In the mid-1980s the Ming class (Type 035) was developed further to the variant Type 035G. Noise emissions were reduced, improved sensors and weapons were fitted and improved crew living standards were made possible. The installation of a modern sonar system gives this type anti-submarine warfare capability through the use of homing torpedoes. The submarines of the Bangladesh Navy employ Chinese passive acoustic homing torpedoes Yu-4 in combination with a Chinese copy of the French DUUX-5 passive sonar. They can carry up to 14 torpedoes or 32 mines.

The Bangladesh Navy is likely to employ the Nabajatra and the Joyatra mainly to train submarine personnel besides monitoring the Bay of Bengal as it aims at procuring 2 to 4 further submarines of the more modern Russian Kilo Class (Project 877 Paltus) or of the Chinese Song Class (Type 039). For an initial period the Bangladesh Crew will be trained by Chinese seamen.